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30 a Varactor Filter

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Compensation

This article presents the basic concept and realization of a bandpass varactor-tunable filter with

constant bandwidth and loss compensation. The filter components are based on step-impedance planar

resonators, while the equalizing circuits of L- and T-types are lumped capacitances. The integration of

the filter passive parts with a gain block is implemented to compensate for the insertion losses.

Examples of practical realizations of two- and four-pole varactor-tunable filters in the 1.1 to 1.5 GHz

frequency range are reported.

by B. Kapilevich

Varactor-tunable filters attract the attention of microwave specialists due to a number of advantages

that can improve the overall performance of communications and radar receivers, as well as measuring

equipment. One of the drawbacks of such filters is a considerable variation in bandwidth (BW) and

insertion losses (IL) within the tuning range. The problem can be solved by the proper design of

equalizing circuits, providing stabilization of these parameters. This article describes the basic concept

and realization of such an approach, when the filter components are using step-impedance resonators

matched by L- and T-types of equalizing elements. Since implementing additional equalizers leads to

increased insertion losses, a gain block, such as an LNA, is integrated with the passive filtering part to

compensate for the loss.

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Fig. 1 Tunable bandpass filter configuration with external (MCext) and internal (MCint) equalizers and loss compensation.

A tunable filter with loss compensation can be constructed by cascading passive tunable filters (or

tunable resonators), an RF gain block and external/internal equalizers, as shown in Figure 1. Here, the

filtering parts are responsible for creating the needed frequency response, while the gain block

compensates for the insertion losses. If the filters (resonators) are tunable (mechanically or electrically)

their input/output impedance variations may be considerable, leading to variations of IL and BW

within the tuning range. To avoid such an undesirable phenomenon, external and internal equalizing

circuits must be added to improve the overall performance. The practical realization of a tunable filter

with constant bandwidth and loss compensation (stabilization) requires performing the following basic

steps:

The design of tunable resonators from which the tunable filter is assembled. In this article, stepimpedance varactor-tunable resonators will be employed to realize such filtering elements;

The choice of a configuration of coupling (equalizing) elements providing stabilization of the

bandwidth within a specified tuning range. If the filter consists of several resonators, both external and

internal equalizers must be determined to provide the best stabilizing effect;

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Fig. 2 Schematics of tunable SIR with the varactor V in series and parallel.

The choice of the gain block and the design of equalizing elements to minimize the IL variation

within the tuning range;

Integrating all the components into a single assembly, in order to reach the goal: a bandpass varactortunable filter with constant IL and BW and loss compensation.

Tunable resonators and filters can be realized through a number of methods.15 However, a stepimpedance resonator (SIR) is an excellent candidate for creating microwave tunable filters due to some

advantages:6

Easy fabrication using planar technology;

Reasonable manufacturing tolerances;

Easy integration with varactors and other lumped or distributed components;

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Wide-range tuning ability (up to 50 percent) with commercially available varactors.

The symmetrical configuration of the SIR, shown in Figure 2, is considered below. It consists of the

two lines with different impedances, Z1 and Z2 and electrical lengths 1 and 2, respectively. The

varactor diode, used as a tuning element, is placed in the center of the resonator. A more detailed

analysis of these configurations6 showed that the frequency tuning range and mode separation depend

on the parameter = 1/(1 + 2) as well as the type of coupling element at the input/output ports

capacitive or inductive.

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The best results are obtained for the parameter = 0.7 to 0.8, assuming Z1 = 20 and Z2 = 80 . The

SIR with a series varactor demonstrates a higher separation between the principal and nearest higher

mode, while its counterpart, with a parallel varactor, has better tunability. Since both SIRs have a

symmetry plane with respect to the varactor, only odd (or even) modes can be tuned while the others

are fixed, depending on the position of the varactor-parallel or series. This effect reduces the frequency

separation of the resonant modes. However, if the cut-off frequency of the gain block is chosen near

the second harmonic, this parameter can be improved in principle. Consider, as an illustration, the

varactor-tunable SIR with capacitive input/output couplings shown in Figure 3. The varactor (capacitor

CV1 with Q = 100 at 1 GHz) is connected in series and its capacitance varies in the range 0.75 to 2.25

pF, depending on the applied bias voltage. The biasing circuitry is not shown for simplicity.

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Table 1

The SIR is assumed to be fabricated on a Duroid RO-3006 substrate: r = 6.15, tan = 0.001, thickness

H = 1.28 mm and a conductor thickness T = 0.035 mm. For these parameters, Z1 = 19.9 , Z2 = 80 ,

1 = 60 and 2 = 24.3, resulting in the parameter = 0.71. The other schematic elements are indicated

in the figure, assuming that the capacitors Q = 100. The IL was simulated using the Ansoft Designer

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SV-2.28 circuit simulator for two capacitances of the varactor CV1 = 0.75 and 2.25 pF (see Figure 4).

The other characteristics of this tunable resonator are given in Table 1. It is clear that the variations of

bandwidth and insertion loss are not acceptable and need the stabilization discussed below.

Stabilization of BW and IL

When it is necessary to stabilize BW and IL within a tuning range, the following factors should be

taken into account:

Fig. 5 Tunable resonator with L-type equalizers at the input and output ports.

Frequency dispersion of the constitutive characteristics of the substrate, namely r and tan;

Frequency dispersion of the parameters of both lumped and distributed elements of the filter,

responsible for its frequency performance;

Frequency behavior of the coupling coefficients of the input/output and inter-resonator coupling

elements.

The roles of these factors and their real contributions in degrading the filter performance depend on the

operating frequency. However, in many practical situations, the coupling elements are the most

essential factors leading to variations of BW and IL. A variety of equalizing circuits can be employed

to stabilize BW, but only simple capacitive L and T configurations are considered, which can be easily

integrated with planar technology.

Single-tunable Resonator

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Fig. 6 Simulated frequency response of the varactor-tunable SIR with input and output equalizers.

A single-tunable resonator with L-type equalizing circuits at the input/output ports is shown in Figure

5. Assuming that the transmission matrix ABCD of a tunable resonator |Tr| is known, the transmission

matrix of the tunable resonator with equalizers |Tre| can be written as

where |Tein| and |Teout| are the transmission matrices of the input and output equalizers consisting of

reactances Z1L and Z2L

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Table 2

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After multiplying the matrices in Equation 1, the elements of |Tre| are determined as

where Ar, Br, Cr and Dr are elements of the transmission matrix of the tunable resonator.6 Assuming a

symmetry with respect of the input and output ports results in Ar = Dr; q = Z1L/Z2L. By transforming the

ABCD matrix into a scattering matrix,7 with a system impedance Z0, S21 can be written as

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Fig. 7 Tunable two-pole filter with L-type equalizers at the input/output ports and an inter-resonator T-type equalizer.

or

where t = 1 + q. The insertion loss expression, IL = 20 log|S21|, can now be used for optimizing the

tunable filters frequency response within a specified tuning range. The equalizing reactances Z1L and

Z2L are considered now as independent variables satisfying the two criteria:

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b) minimum variation of bandwidth.

To simplify the minimization procedure to reach the goal, the capacitive elements, Z1L = 1/j2fC1L and

Z2L = 1/j2fC2L are tried, so that the following error function ER can be introduced

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where t1 and t2 are weighting coefficients (t1 + t2 = 1) and V1 and V2 are the varactor biasing voltages

corresponding to the specified tuning range of the resonator. A search for a minimum of the error

function (the details are omitted due to space limitation) results in the value of the equalizing capacitors

of CIL 2.2pF and C2L 1pF. The simulated frequency responses obtained for these equalizers are

shown in Figure 6, with the same varactors capacitors values as before.

A comparison of both responses demonstrates that the stabilizations of IL and BW are successful,

namely the BW variation is reduced by more than three times and the IL variation is reduced by

approximately five times. Table 2 summarizes the results of the above optimization.

Coupled-tunable Resonators

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Fig. 10 Four-pole tunable filter configuration with L- and T-type equalizers, varactor-tunable SIRs (R) and gain block (G).

are shown in Figure 7. Assuming that the transmission matrix ABCD of a single-tunable resonator |Tr|

is known, the transmission matrix of the coupled-tunable resonator with external and internal

equalizers |Tre| can be written using the same approach as described above for the single-tunable

resonator. However, the error function must now be modified to include the parameters of the intercoupling elements of the T-equalizer, C1T and C2T. It can be written as

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By optimizing the error function, the values of the equalizing capacitors have been determined to be

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The schematic of the equalized two-pole filter is shown in Figure 8 and its simulated frequency

responses are shown in Figure 9 for CV1 and CV2 varying in the range 0.75 to 2.25 pF. The BW varies

from 18 to 22 MHz and the variation of IL is 6 to 7 dB, within the tuning range 1.08 to 1.53 GHz.

However, this level of insertion loss is unacceptable for many applications. To compensate for the

insertion losses, a gain block is added between the two-pole tunable filters, as shown in Figure 10. It

should be pointed out that implementing the gain block may require a correction of its gain slope

within the specified tuning range in order to obtain a flatter IL.

In order to verify the suggested concept and the results of the nonlinear optimization of the error

functions (Equations 9 and 10), varactor-tunable filters were fabricated using planar microstrips on

Duroid RO-3006 substrates, SMA connectors and the step-impedance topology previously described.

Abrupt junction tuning varactors SMV1405 from Skyworks Solutions Inc. were employed with a

biasing circuit providing 0 to 15 V.

A photograph of the two-pole tunable filter is shown in Figure 11. The measured IL of this filter is

shown in Figure 12. Its tuning range is from 1.0 to 1.4 GHz, its 3 dB BW = 60 5 MHz and its IL = 3.5

to 5.0 dB. A four-pole tunable filter has been assembled, using two identical two-pole tunable filters,

with a gain block between them. The Mini-Circuits LNA-ZFL1000LN with a gain of approximately 20

dB was integrated within these filters for loss compensation. A photograph of the whole assembly is

shown in Figure 13. A special controller-driver has been designed to distribute the biasing voltages

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between the four varactors from a single DC power supply. Figure 14 shows the measured IL for

different biasing voltages. Table 3 summaries the performance of the fabricated four-pole tunable filter.

Conclusion

Varactor-tunable bandpass filters based on SIRs have been presented in this article.

Fig. 14 Measured insertion loss of the four-pole tunable SIR filter with a gain block compensation.

The major limiting factors such as variation of BW and IL were overcome by using L- and T-types of

equalizers. Almost constant BW and IL over the 40 percent tuning range have been achieved with

varactor diodes available in the market today.

The filters are easy to fabricate using planar microstrip technology suitable for mass-production. n

Acknowledgments

The author would like to thank D. Vogel and M. Berger from EYAL Microwave (Israel) for supporting

this work and helping to fabricate the varactor-tunable filters, and A. Shulsinger for designing the

controller-driver used in the laboratory tests of these filters.

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Table 3

References

1.

I.C. Hunter and J.D. Rhodes, Electrically Tunable Microwave Bandpass Filters, IEEE

Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, Vol. 30, No. 9, September 1982, pp. 1354

1360.

2.

R.M. Kurzrok, Tunable Combline Filter Using 60 Degree Resonators, Applied Microwave &

Wireless, Vol. 12, November 2000, pp. 98100.

3.

A.R. Brown and G.M. Rebeiz, A Varactor-tuned RF Filter, IEEE Transactions on Microwave

Theory and Techniques, Vol. 48, No. 7, July 2000, pp. 11571160.

4.

L.G. Maloratsky, Assemble a Tunable L-band Preselector, Microwaves & RF, September

2003.

5.

B.W. Kim and S.W. Yun, Varactor-tuned Combline Bandpass Filter Using Step-impedance

Microstrip Lines, IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, Vol. 52, No. 4,

April 2004, pp. 12791282.

6.

Wireless Applications, Applied Microwave & Wireless, Vol. 8, No. 9, September 1998, pp.

3244.

7.

D.M. Pozar, Microwave Engineering, John Wiley & Sons Inc., Hoboken, NJ, 2005.

8.

Russia, in 1961, his PhD degree in microwaves from Novosibirsk Technical

University, Russia, in 1969, and his Dr. Sc.Tech. degree in microwaves/antennas from

Moscow Power University, Russia. From 1988 to 2001, he was a professor and head

of the applied electromagnetics department of the Novosibirsk State University of

Telecommunications, Russia. Since 2002, he has been a professor in the department

of electrical and electronics engineering of The College of J&S, Israel, and head of the microwavemm-wave group of the Israeli Center for Radiation Sources and Applications. His research interests

include microwave and mm-wave devices, measurements and characterization of materials at high

frequencies.

Copyright 2006 Microwave Journal & Horizon House Publications.

All rights reserved.

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